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Projects and Writing

Selected projects and writing by Lisa Maule

Writing Pasifika artists into today’s ‘history books’

17 Mar 2022 (Creative New Zealand Blog Post)
You’ll increasingly find biographies of notable Pasifika artists on Wikipedia, due in part to the work of three Pasifika artists training as editors, with support through Creative New Zealand’s Pacific Arts Strategy.

The Pacific Arts Wikipedian in Residency pilot programme is part of our #DigitalMoana response to the impacts of COVID-19. We’re supporting three Pasifika artists to be part of the Pacific Arts Aotearoa Wikiproject, documenting the stories of Arts Pasifika Award winners and other notable Pasifika artists living in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The three Pasifika artist residents are:

  • Sophia Coghini, an interdisciplinary Pasifika artist, of Niuean (Alofi, Hikutavake), Tahitian, Māori (Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi), Italian and Hungarian descent

  • Kasi Valu, multidisciplinary performer, playwright and poet, New Zealand-born of Tongan (Mau’ufanga, Lapaha) descent

  • Leilani A Sio, alter ego DJ Panda, interdisciplinary artist born in Tamaki, raised on Motu Kairangi (Strathmore, Te Whanganui a Tara), descendent from the Samoan villages of Safune, Lano, Leauva'a, and Lotofaga (Matatufu).


Leilani says, “I think this is only the beginning, I would like to continue to improve the five articles that I chose to do for the project, and beyond that get better at being a Wikipedian and stay within the realm of Oceania. I am an avid user of Wikipedia, and most of my reading has been through music and film deep dives over the years so it's nice to experience Wikipedia from this perspective as a contributor." 


Kasi says, “Looking deeper into the future I hope we begin to build frameworks outside of Wikipedia, a database that best reflects our lens and cultural practices that is true to the way we catalogue information from our ancestral practices deeply rooted in oratory.” 


Creative New Zealand’s Pacific Arts Manager Kawika Aipa says, “The residency is part of our strategy to grow Pasifika leadership in all facets of the creative sector, including the pages of Wikipedia. It’s also about improving the representation of Pasifika artists in the digital space, amplifying their profiles in Aotearoa and globally, so more people know about their work and the valuable contribution they make.”


The trio is being coached by arts practitioner and Wikipedia editor Lisa Maule, who is also coordinating the wider Pacific Arts Aotearoa Wikiproject project. Lisa was last year funded by the Wikimedia Foundation to run a performing arts project that led to this project.


Lisa says, “The residency increases the number of Pasifika voices within the volunteer Wikipedia editing community in Aotearoa. Discussions about representation are part of the process as the participants learn alongside each other.”

“While the new editors might know something about a person, it can take time to find a way to verify it to the level required by Wikipedia. But it’s worth it, as quality in Wikipedia brings more views. The newly-trained editors are also discovering once they work on articles it generates other editors to also expand and improve.”


The Pacific Arts Wikipedian in Residency focuses on the art and material culture of Pacific peoples living in New Zealand and is helping build a network of support, including Rachel Yates, the Curator Pacific Cultures at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Recent activity:

Lisa and Kasi represented the residency pilot at the 2022 National Digital Forum in February.
Kasi and Sophia joined a two-day Edit-a-thon for International Women's Day Aotearoa, where 16 editors added more than 100,000 words to Wikipedia and Wikidata and created 39 new articles. 

The residency pilot began in December and runs through to late March 2022.

During the residency the trio had articles published for:

Edith Amituanai
Ema Tavola
Jasmine Togo-Brisby
Kulimoe'anga Stone Maka
Kaetaeta Watson
Lusi Faiva
Pati Solomona Tyrell
Suli Moa
Cora-Allan Wickliffe
Amanaki Prescott-Faletauu


Read more about the Wikipedia: WikiProject New Zealand/Pacific Arts Aotearoa project on Wikipedia. This page is regularly updated with progress and outcomes.

Sat 20 Feb 2021

A Dynamic and Irresolvable Tussle

I created an installation with Sheila Horton on Cuba Street inspired by and referencing the work of Vivian Lynn. It is one of the displays of the Cuba Street Shopfront Takeover on Saturday 20 February as part of the festival 'What if the City Was a Theatre'.

In this installation in the window of Ziggurat on 144 Cuba Street I have made a 'Guardian Gate' - it references the work of artists Vivian Lynn. Triangles because this is a recurring motif in many of my paintings. References to ziggurat's. One of the reviews of Guardian Gates mentions 'ziggurat like' in reference to the hair being wound a certain way. The gate is displayed on it's side - there are three 'ziggurats' / ancient temples.


Then there is a costume covered with drawings and paintings of mine, modelled by both myself and Madeline McNamara. The artist is placed in the installation drawing the people watching us and making art.

The title of the installation, 'A Dynamic and Irresolvable Tussle' is a quote from Christina Barton.

Post for the July 2020 Magdalena Project newsletter.



The winter solstice seemed more significant to me this year. I have started gardening more. Plus I am very conscious of darkness, cold and wellbeing with a global pandemic and the highlighting of centuries of terror through the current #BlackLivesMatter protests very present in Aotearoa New Zealand.

I was born in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington in Aotearoa. My parents came from Scotland and England, both from white ancestry. My grandmother’s family farmed land in Aotearoa purchased in 1912, a legacy of an act of parliament (Native Lands Act 1865) that was “to encourage the extinction of such [native] proprietary customs”.

I see a wealth of women who invest energy into their communities to bring light to injustice. They have always existed. These women propose different ways, educate and share information, model and encourage care and compassion, and to use anger to fuel change. I feel these voices very strongly in the current weeks. I wonder if this is only in my own sphere that this is felt? I am hopeful that white privilege and the invisible whiteness that holds systemic racism firmly in place is being opened up as a concept to white people. I am worried about people retreating back into the tower and slamming down the gates. See the eloquent Lani Wendt Youngs 2019 essay Stories from the Wild for her take on gatekeepers of voice.  The conversation of racism seems to be more everywhere and feels different.

Photo captions / credits​

  • Sketches by Lisa Maule

  • Kia Mau, Resisting Colonial Fictions book (cover art-work by Robyn Kahukiwa) 

  • Lisa Maule, selfie 2020

  • Screen grab from a promo video of “All Roads lead to Ngātapa” 2019 Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, NZ. Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust . L to R. Lisa Maule, Kiana Ria Renata-Kokiri and Raiha Moetara

I am looking, and listening and learning – learning when I can influence, learning when to shut up, learning about the history of my family and my people in the world. The Doctrine of Discovery and a timeline of the colonisation of India in relation to Aotearoa are current interests.


I am thinking about what I learnt from the Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust performance last year All Roads Lead to Ngātapa about people telling their own stories. #AllRoadsLeadToNgātapa #OURStoryOURWay. It is important for me to consider what the 250 year anniversary of the English ship led by Captain Cook arriving in Aotearoa means. It means violence and domination to me.

“As a mindset, the Doctrine of Discovery reiterates an entitlement to conquer for the sake of imperial expansion. That mindset sits at the heart of the corporate memories, and fuels the process of climate change and ocean pollution which place our very existence at threat.” Tina Ngata 2019 (‘Kia Mau, Resisting Colonial Fictions’ ISBN 978-0-473-49495-7)


I am editing Wikipedia, designing for contemporary dance, researching theatre and building a community around a garden space in my suburb. Madeline McNamara, Jade Eriksen, myself and others are waiting news of an application for Madeline and Jade to develop a new show Liminal Splits and Other Basic Deceits.


A group of young women present their spoken word at a Black Lives Rally in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and a young women MP posts it on social media: “So tell us to be quiet and know that we won’t” Ngā Hinepūkōrero June 2020 Tina Ngata an author and activist turns her website into a Patreon to get funds for the clarity and research her words create:

And I celebrate a small protest in my locale. A street sign perhaps named after Captain Cook was subtly changed to Cock Street.


Post script:

The UN’s perspective on the Impact of the Doctrine of Discovery (May, 2012)


“The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues concluded its eleventh session with the approval of a set of nine draft recommendations, highlighted by a text approved on the special theme, the ongoing impact of the Discovery Doctrine on indigenous peoples and the right redress. That fifteenth century Christian principle was denounced throughout the session as the “shameful” root of all the discrimination and marginalization indigenous peoples face today.

Design Lab logo.png


Design Lab

The Design Lab, was a design focused meeting place for ideas. 



Over six months in 2019 the Design Lab was experienced and emerging designers coming together in Wellington to share and strengthen ideas. It was organised by Lisa Maule as a way of building community around work-in-progress.

People brought their work and design questions to discuss in a relaxed atmosphere. All stages of the project were discussed - from forming idea through to after the pack out and all areas of performing arts and events design are included.


It was inspirational to be able to hear from others what they made of the ideas and problems encountered as we are in a process.  

The Design Lab was a start up in partnership with BATS Theatre, produced by Luminaire NZ Ltd, and supported by the Wellington City Council's Creative Communities grant.

#theatre #packin #panto


Lisa Maule on The MagdalenaAotearoa Trust

Playmarket Annual

New Zealand Theatre 2017

Issue no. 52 (2017)

In the early 90s, a theatre artist got handed a book about women's experimental theatre found at the Wellington Central Library. Ultimately it set in motion the Magdalena Aotearoa Trust and the start of a journey of connection and creativity for many that has spanned the globe: twenty years of exchange, with New Zealand artists on international tours and residencies, many newsletters and meetings, and workshops, often hosting guests from afar. The biggest event: a unique multi-arts international festival in Wellington and Paekakariki in 1999. Magdalena Aotearoa became a resource for creating and discussing artistic, training and economic structures to enable the practice of women in theatre and related art forms.


The resources and spaces for this work have been varied. We were in control of these and it was how much effort we put into these things that were important. Cups of tea, kitchen tables, cold community halls, French bread sticks, salami and cheese, musicians, laughter and inner drive are the resources that most come to mind.


The book that started it all contained in-depth writing about creative making process by women. Magdalena: International Womens Experimental Theatre documented the workshops, published writing and the first fiery festival of The Magdalena Project. Thought-provoking accounts of a variety of processes, initiated and driven by individual or collectives of women, it contained conversations that many New Zealand based female theatre-makers were hungry for. A central question in the book: 'What is theatre work when it is made by women?'


The recipient of the library book was Sally Rodwell, theatre-maker and founding member of Red Mole. Sally had started making work with Madeline McNamara. Both came to Wellington after different experiences overseas. I remember the story being that Sally and Madeline, on reading the book, immediately announced they were going to meet the women who were within its pages. Sally and Madeline developed a show called Crow Station inspired by misfit and homeless people they'd encountered in the USA, including characters nesting in the New York subway. I did the lighting. We went to Magdalena Project festival in Cardiff, Wales in 1994.


The work of Magdalena Aotearoa has always seemed amorphous. Structure, purpose and output have always been able to change. However, throughout persists the thread of exchange - a will to capture and harness the creativity that can exist in the space between people. This comes from different places for different women who touch this thread. For me in Cardiff at age 23, it was the challenge and ownership of contributing to the whirlwind energy of Sally and Madeline and others. It was the opportunity to travel and be amongst laughter. And also to be amongst the high level conversation and critical thinking that occurred through the making and experiencing of performances and workshops.


These conversations have been important to me, as to others. In some ways Magdalena Aotearoa exists for the exchange of ideas and inspiration. To develop critical language, to boost people's ability to find their own ways and be parts of the conversations they want to be part of. One of the aims of the Trust is to encourage the use of, respect for and knowledge of diverse theatrical forms and performance events, expressing the political and cultural realities of the many different groups of women in Aotearoa.


There are Magdalena offshoots and festivals all around the world. Created with limited funds and equipment, but with dedication to making space for the development that arises from these events. Jill Greenhalgh, a Magdalena Project founder writes in the book The Magdalena Project @25 - Legacy and Challenge:


“From a concrete event a ripple effect of activities and newfound relationships provokes new collaborations and performance works along with even more questions and debate. As the body of work expands, so too has a progressively layered critical consciousness and confidence."


Crow Station appearing at a Magdalena Project Festival started lasting friendships and connections with other participants from Europe and South America. Then Magdalena Aotearoa's collaboration with Māori women to create an autonomous festival opened up a new field of dialogue for the Magdalena Project, and inspired Magdalena Australia for their festival in 2003.


Documenting and writing has always been part of the Magdalena Project. Many people hungrily devoured their regular publication The Open Page. Magdalena Aotearoa's quarterly newsletters were a resource for 12 years, sharing events and thoughts from the network. Now we use different technologies. Sharing information, documenting, making relationships, and having the will to organise, these essentials sum up the resources of The Magdalena Project. It's the space we thread together, through our attention to the details in organising, our need to communicate, our investment in relationships, and our memories that we trace in our work.

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